Thursday, May 23, 2013

Falken Tire Scores Podium Finishing Weekend at Mazda Raceway

It was another strong race weekend for Falken Tire at Round 4 of the American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Again, expert teamwork, speedy pit stops, strong strategy and incredible driving combined for a second place finish for Falken. The team dedicated the off season to creating an improved tire for the 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, and all the hard work has paid off. In the past three races, the team has qualified in second twice and has earned two podium finishes. Here’s a look at the team’s weekend. Next up, Lime Rock Park!

To ensure an organized paddock, the Series has a designated day when all the trucks can pull in and established times teams can open the trucks and start unloading. The Porsche soaks up the sun on set up day while the crew unloads the rig and sets up the paddock for the week. 

With the kiwi tile laid down, the crew starts to put together the covering.

With the tent set up, the lights hung and the tools brought in, Besim and Arti get to work on getting the Porsche’s area set up.

Artie measures to make sure everything is balanced and level to the right specifications.

Inside the cockpit of the Falken Porsche.

The following day, it’s time to get on track! The teams had a test day before the first official practice sessions began. In years past, Falken struggled on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, so the team made use of every allotted minute.

The Porsche pulls in after a stint to check the tires and make adjustments on the setup before returning back out on track.

As the car puts down solid laps, Brandon uses the time to relax and catch some sun and watch the session on the pit’s TVs.

The day is complete, the sun sets and the crew gets to work on the Porsche. Usually the crew works well after sunset to dial in on the right setup and get ready for the next morning’s sessions.

While the Walker Racing crew work on the Porsche, the Falken Tire crew gets to work on mounting all the tires for the next day’s sessions.

With our Sebring 12 Hour podium trophy in hand, we got together in pit lane for a group photo. This crew worked hard for the podium finish and were rewarded to a team dinner in Monterey to celebrate.Top row, left to right: Eladin, Artie, Lee, Besim, Alex, Mike, Brandon, Dan and Rick.
Bottom row, left to right: Brad, Owen, Kelly, Edo, Mo, Derrick, Phil, Yoshi, Takeshi, Brian, Sebastian. And of course we all know Wolf and Bryan.

Of course, with this group, a serious photo had to be followed up by a ridiculous photo. It was all Derrick Walker’s idea. Racing is serious business, but this crew still manages to find the time to have some fun.

Back to business, the drivers visited the Mazda Raceway Porscheplatz. There was a great turnout of Porsche Club of America owners, and Porsche was gracious enough for the team to invite their social media fans to attend the question and answer session.

The Porsche Club members asked a lot of good questions, and were cracking jokes with Bryan and Wolf for most of the questions. If you’re a PCA member and you haven’t signed up for the Porscheplatz yet, put it on your to-do list!

Later that afternoon, the drivers made an appearance at the ALMS Fan Forum at the Mazda display with Katherine Legge and Johannes van Overbeek . Despite the warm temperatures and sun, there was an incredible turnout!

With the public appointments complete, Wolf retreats to the office to catch up on emails before heading out on track.

All the tires used in an ALMS race weekend are checked and marked by IMSA, the sanctioning body. They apparently got bitten by the spring bug.

The Porsche pulls in for some set up changes during the practice session.

After a long day, Falken ALMS Supervisor Brad hangs out with Falken Tire social media rock star and photographer rock star Jesse as he posts the photos from the day.

It’s race day! Engineer Brian is set up early race day morning in the team rig’s office.

Race day also means our Falken Girls Gabriella and Julie are in attendance! The ladies were on hand all day to sign autographs, hand out swag and pose with fans; After posing with Wolf first, of course.

During the autograph session, we saw hundreds of fans come through to meet Wolf, Bryan, Gabriella and Julie. As with every ALMS autograph session, we gave out tons of swags for fans. It’s always great to see so many fans eager to represent our team!

Falken Tire also debuted the new ALMS team poster. It will be at all our race events for the rest of the season, so be sure to come out to a race to get yours!

It’s almost race time! The Falken Girls pose on the pre race grid with the race car drivers before the fan walk begins.

Like birds sitting on a telephone wire, the Falken crew enjoys the sun while watching the multitude of fans on the fan walk.

Bryan also tried his hand at modeling on the pre-race grid. What do you think?

Alex, Mike, Besim, Brad and Artie line up, waiting for the National Anthem to begin.

Meanwhile, Bryan gets suited up to start the race with co-driver Wolf by his side. Bryan qualified the car in second.

Wolf watches anxiously as co-driver Bryan fights hard against the other factory teams to keep the Porsche in the top three.

Crew member Lee intently waits on pit wall for Bryan to pit.

Stint complete, Bryan does  a quick interview with ESPN/SPEED’s Justin Bell.

The race is complete and Wolf and Bryan exchange a hug, congratulating each other on their second place finish.

Another podium for Team Falken Tire! Thank you to the crew, drivers and our partners for such a strong weekend.  For the fans who showed up to cheer us on, this sport wouldn’t be what it is without you. We hope to see you in July at Round 4 at Lime Rock Park!

Every race, we love hearing from our fans! Here are your photos from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca:

Watching from home, Peter (@BaronVonClutch) snapped an interview shot of Bryan with Justin Bell

Our friends at Battery Tender (@batterytender) tweeted this pic of the Falken Porsche leading the Paul Miller Porsche and RLL BMW out of the Corkscrew

Watching from home, Chris (@CJensen1222) tweeted this with the caption "As it should be." We agree, Chris!

Dave (@DaveBuckholz) tweeted us his support with this flashback poster!

GT Competitor Tommy Milner (@TommyMilner) is a big fan of our team and somehow always makes it into our caption contests. Now he's taking shots of us on the grid too!

Wesley (@WesleyLegaspi) caught Bryan coming out of the Corkscrew.

Falken Tire's Andrew (@andrewhoit) joined the rest of the fans at the Corkscrew.

Our leading lady speeds away from Alex (@aphong93).

Foo Bear( We're guessing that's not your real name, @gingerkid_584 ) caught the Porsche early in the morning getting ready for the day.

Falken Tire's Joyce (@joycelex) caught the Falken Girls as they were getting ready to hand out posters during the race. Great job, ladies!

Marco (@mar_B_ond) decided to race along with Bryan and Wolf virtually.

Marcello (@marcellorsr) found the Porsche first thing in the morning in the rig.

This just goes to show how great the level of competition is in ALMS. So many different car and tire manufacturerss in the top five. That black "F" looks great in P1! Thanks for sharing @oneighturbo!

 Sean (@SeanMP) won one of our twitter contests and won a Vitesse ride on track! Thanks Porsche for giving us such a great prize to give to our fans!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Team Falken Tire Returns to Long Beach

 Round Two of the 2013 American Le Mans Series took place earlier this month in sunny Long Beach California. Team Falken tire showed incredible strength and progress all weekend long. Bryan Sellers qualified the No. 17 Porsche in second place, stating afterwards that the 2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and the tires Falken Tire spent all winter developing were the best they had been. As is the case with the Long Beach Grand Prix, the race was filled with competitive racing and several bouts of contact. During his stint, Bryan was pushed down the charts, suffering contact from two different competitors. In Wolf Henzler’s stint, the No. 17 Porsche had unfortunate contact with another car, and after receiving a stop and hold penalty, Falken Tire finished 10th in the GT class. Although it was a disappointing end to a strong week, Team Falken Tire is pressing on and making the final preparations for Round 3 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca next week.
Long Beach is one of the two tracks on the ALMS schedule that Team Falken Tire considers home. For home tracks, race teams usually have their event schedule filled with car showings, public appearances and partner events. This year, Team Falken Tire returned to Circle Porsche in Long Beach for a private gathering. The parking lot of Circle Porsche was filled with stunning Porsches of every kind, and hundreds of guests were in attendance.

Back at the race track, Falken team member Mo helps the towing company load up the Porsche. Because of the low ride height on the RSR, loading up the car is a slow, meticulous process. After accompanying the Porsche on many public appearances, as well as many other race cars throughout his years, Mo has become an expert in making sure our leading lady makes it safely to each event.

Inside, hundreds of guests were in attendance to see the Falken Porsche as well as the unveiling of the new Porsche Cayman. By the end of the night, the showroom was completely packed with Porsche enthusiasts.

Our partners at HPI racing joined for the festivities and even brought some of their Falken Tire RC cars with different liveries. The response to the Falken Tire liveried Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has been extremely successful. HPI racing has been working at full speed to keep up with the demand of the 1/10th scale remote control race car.

Bryan and Wolf took a few minutes to sign hero cards, posters and hand out swag. If course, they also couldn’t resist meeting their fans too.

After a successful night, it was time to load the Porsche back up again, under the watchful eye of the crew.

Set up day at Long Beach is always interesting, due to the confined paddock space. With ALMS, IndyCar, World Challenge and Indy Lights, it can be difficult to fit so many race series in one paddock, especially on a street course. Paddocks were spread out everywhere around the street circuit, but quarters were still tight. This set up day was also particularly interesting due to the weather hitting the Midwest and the airlines that were suffering from computer issues. Several Team Falken Tire crew members were stranded in Indianapolis during the set up day, leaving the other crew members to handle the paddock and car. As with any great team, the crew worked together and everything was ready in time.

For the casual race fan, the ALMS paddock can be overwhelming. There are so many different types of cars and classes that finding a particular team is sometimes a struggle. To enhance the fan experience, ALMS provided all race teams with a paddock flag, listing the team name, logo and what class they belong to. Here, Mo looks like he’s going to battle as he sets up the paddock banner.

As the crew set up the paddock outside, Wolf did some preparations of his own, getting his helmet ready for the event ahead. Most people don’t really think about how gross a helmet can get after multiple races, but even helmets need a deep cleaning. Here, Wolf was putting all of the freshly cleaned padding back into his helmet.

The final item on the schedule for the day was the track walk. Before every race event, participants have the opportunity to walk the race track to inspect it and discuss strategy. Tracks change over time, and especially with street courses, it is crucial for the drivers and engineers to inspect every inch and turn of the course.

At Long Beach, Bryan celebrated his fifth year with Falken Tire. Through the years, he has been instrumental in the growth and development of the race team. He couldn’t do it without a great team to work with, including Team Manager Derrick Walker, Engineer Brian Junger, Tire Engineer Yoshi Yasuda, and Engineer Sebastien Constans.

With the track walk and the paddock set up complete, Wolf and Bryan inspect the inside of the RSR. With each race, different changes are made and it’s imperative that the drivers are comfortable and aware of the adjustments. For this race, the RSR was also loaded up with cameras from the Falken Tire creative department. Follow us on twitter to keep an eye out for some exciting videos from inside the Porsche (@FalkenALMS).

Despite the cramped paddock size, the pits at Long Beach are fairly spread out, leaving the team sufficient room. Other race events can be very cramped, making pit stops under cautions very hectic.

Sebastien, Brian, Derrick and Bryan watched on as Wolf took the car out during the practice session.

After every session, Wolf and Bryan immediately start discussions on the performance of the car and tire as well as track conditions. It’s photos like these that are perfect for our caption contests!
During the practice day, the IMSA officials went through pit lane to make sure every team set up their pit box according to series regulations.

Following practice, the team took the car back to the paddock to make the final adjustments before qualifying. With only two hours on the track, they had very little time to dial in on the proper set up.

No, we didn’t catch Lee taking a nap under the Porsche. If a crew member is always missing in action, they can usually be found working under the car.

After the crew finished additional set up changes for the Porsche, Bryan climbed in to work with the team to make sure they had all the feedback they needed.

Every year at Long Beach, Team Falken Tire joins forces with Racers Who Care. RWC brings in children from local elementary schools and connects them with drives and race teams. At Long Beach, Bryan and Wolf meet up with the kids to speak to them about pursuing your dreams, living a healthy life, and of course Falken Tire!

Even the parents took part in the visit, asking plenty of good questions about the drivers and team.

 Back in the paddock, the crew took the car to technical inspection. In previous blogs, we’ve discussed how tight the IMSA specifications and regulations are for competitors. It’s important that the crew brings the car into tech before qualifying to make sure the car is legal. In years past, teams have lost their qualifying positions due to cars being inspected and deemed illegal after the session.

Being the “celebrities” of the race team, usually the drivers always have someone around. Falken photographer Jesse caught up with Bryan as he finished getting ready for qualifying.
 Before every race event or practice session, there is a calm before the storm. The team has headed to pit lane, the fans have left for their seats, and the drivers are left alone to mentally prepare.
….or make business calls.

Bryan qualified the #17 Porsche in second, and the day was done. Race morning was spent greeting local tire dealers and Falken Tire partners. Then came one of the best parts of the weekend: The autograph session. Long Beach is a very popular event and the fans came out in large numbers to meet the drivers and pick up team swag.

On race day, Wolf and Bryan teamed up with Bryan Herta Autosport to do a joint IndyCar and ALMS tweetup with Josef Newgarden. Twitter followers were invited to stop by the IndyCar Fan Village for a question and answer session with the drivers.
There was a large amount of fans, most of which were meeting Bryan and Wolf (and the Falken Girls) for the first time.
Meanwhile, back at the paddock, the Porsche flirted with fans before the pre-race grid.
And our lovely Falken Spokesmodels Randyl (@RandylDawn) and Julie (@JulieMGalindo) were available to sign posters and give out swag as well.

 The ALMS paddock is technically outside the race track. Whenever teams have to cross the track into pit lane, they have to wait until the track is cold and the officials open the gates to let them in. Some of the teams wait in line an hour beforehand so they can be sure to cross over in time. This is what the line looked like before the pre-race grid. It’s so packed you can barely make out the Falken Porsche in the top right corner.
IMSA officials and Falken crew members Brad and Artie position Bryan and the Porsche on the grid.

As the National Anthem was sung and the teams lined up on the grid, Bryan popped open the door to cool down the Porsche as he waited for the recon laps to begin.

 Meanwhile, Julie and Randyl posed for photos.

 With Bryan’s stint almost complete, Wolf waited on the pit lane wall to jump into the car. 

 Again, the Falken Tire crew did an excellent job during the pit stop. In Sebring, they topped the charts as the GT team with the least amount of time in pit lane, and in Long Beach, they again showed excellence in pit lane.

After a long race, both Bryan and Wolf still had to conduct interviews with the Falken Tire creative team. On the other side of the truck, the crew packed up the rig and the car, ready to head home after a week in California. 
This week, Team Falken Tire returns to California for Round 3 of the American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Visit and for more information. Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler will be making appearances at  the Porscheplatz (all fans are welcome) at 9:30am on Friday, May 10th, and at the ALMS Fan Forum in the Mazda Paddock at 1:00pm.

Thank you to the Falken Fanatics who sent in their photos from Long Beach! Tweet us your Falken Tire picture at the next race event and we'll include it in our post-race blog!

Also be sure to follow our team on twitter:
Falken Tire: @FalkenTire
Team Falken Tire: @FalkenALMS
Bryan Sellers: @BryanSellers
Wolf Henzler: @Wolf_Henzler

From our friends at @BatteryTender, the Porsche as she waits to enter tech inspection. 

 @Core8610 snapped this shot of the Porsche speeding through a corner.

Danny (@Dancald10) snapped a shot of the Porsche turning onto Pine Avenue with a Corvette in pursuit.

From Falken Tire's own Joyce (@JoyceLex), Julie, Randyl, Bryan and Wolf at the autograph session

Watching from home, Mikey (@MikeyP155) took a screen shot of another speedy Falken Tire pitstop.

Loyal twitter follower Tracy (@RosenRakuen) shared this shot of the Porsche in tech inspection.

Our leading lady strutting her stuff in front of the fans, by @Someday0806.

Porsche Club of America member Chet (@csx556) came out to the Porsche dealership to see our sexy lady.

Nicholas (@nicphillips) stopped by early one morning to check out the team.

Patrick (@twincheckers98) couldn't attend the race, but he still showed support via his phone. Thanks Patrick!